Mom and I had a long conversation on Saturday which made me feel rather strange, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I can’t even remember how it started, but I know at one point I was explaining something to her about how my head works (and being more open with her than I have been in some time, which in itself is a good thing) and I was describing it in terms of which parts were like my dad and which like her, and from there we got to tracing personality types and issues back through the family tree and seeing how the repercussions of my forebears’ issues are still being felt generations later. Mom told lots of anecdotes, and I learned some things about my family I’d never even suspected. Her reminiscent mood outlasted my ability to absorb it, though, and I ended up feeling a bit overwrought and tearful – there was nothing to be upset about really, but you know the way when you have a lot to process, any more just feels like too much of a burden? Overall, though, it was good to talk like that. There isn’t much of a tradition of passing on family history on either side of my family, so it was good to be made more aware of my roots; and also it felt like it deepened the relationship between me and Mom to be aware of all the other ties that bind us besides the main mother-daughter link.
It sounds like that might have been a good thing.
But here’s a tip you might try. Any time I’m overwhelmed with someone talking to me about anything, or when it’s just not the right time, or when I just don’t want to hear it, I tune out. The words just become noise with nothing intelligible in them at all. They might as well be wind noise in the background for all it means to me.
With a little practice, maybe you can do this at will, too.
I'm pretty good at tuning out
things I don’t want to listen to – radio, TV, background noise, etc – but if someone’s talking to me, especially about something important, I prefer to listen. If it gets to the point where I really can’t take any more, I’ll say so and ask to leave the rest till another time; fortunately the conversation with my mom ended just before I got to that point.
Being honest and direct did cross my mind, but tuning out is often just easier.